Album of the Week: Marcel Dettmann presents RAUCH

Billowing out from under the concrete fortress that is home to Ostgut Ton’s ambient / leftfield subsidiary A-TON is RAUCH – a new collaborative work between Felix K, Marcel Dettmann, Sa Pa and Simon Hoffmann. Originally recorded to accompany the images of post world-war 2 monasteries by photographer Friederike von Rauch in an exhibition called insgeheim (“in secret”), the music appears on an album for the first time, mixed and arranged by  Berghain’s favourite son Marcel Dettmann. A Tourette by Le Corbusier and Iannis Xenakis near Lyon; Roosenberg Abbey near Ghent; and Maria Regina Martyrum in Berlin appear in Rauch’s pictures as seductive aesthetic details, which the production collective presented by Dettmann breathe into life as a post-modern ambient composition.

Created in dialogue with Rauch’s images, the music gesticulates in the industrial drones and cavernous atmospheres of the 21st century sound art music. A heavy, grovelling murmur that never quite materialises into a pulse underscores the arrangements, while metallic percussive parts and extensive legato phrases swarm around the higher frequencies. Removed from the context of the installation and Rauch’s pictures, the music evokes images of pious solemnity from the perspective of an eerie, abstract presence. There’s something sinister at work in the incandescent white noise and the breathy emptiness that surrounds the arrangements that are more than just the listener’s own projections.

Synthetic melodic phrases that seem to fall down from ecclastical heights creates an accessibility that is often missing on works like these. Appropriating the reverential qualities of  synthetic strings and positioning them in the abstract world of music concrete, the 2-sided LP is approachable even in its atypical nature, much like the impressive sound installations created by Susan Phillipsz. Like Rauch’s visual work they intended to audibly document, the production collective ties a thread between the abstract and the conventional; contrasting the aesthetic beauty of the execution of the romantic period with a kind of raw realism found in modern artistic practises.

As an album it’s a presence all onto itself, never quite disappearing into the background, as it shifts from the crunching drones that introduce the album to the hypnotic allure of the sinewy strings that float in and out of Dettmann’s final arrangement. RAUCH skates the marginal border between sound-art and ambient Techno and through A-TON, it offers an introduction to both sides from the other end of the spectrum, calling in perhaps a new phase in their continued merging practises to-day.